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8/07/2012

REVIEW: Gravity Rush (Vita)



Gravity Rush is definitely one of the most original games out there right now and one of the best in Sony’s new portable console, the PS Vita. The game’s art style, gameplay, storytelling, combat and music create a perfect feeling of immersion and wonder in the fantastic and curious world it takes place in. And with cutting-edge graphics make the ability to take the game anywhere a definite plus.

The game is created by people behind the Siren and Silent Hill series and it tells the story of a girl called Kat who wakes up one day in the floating city of Hekseville (which sits in the middle of a huge column called the Pillar of the World) having lost all her memory and unexplainably gains the ability to control gravity around her when she befriends a rather otherworldly cat who she calls Dusty.

Slowly, Kat starts to meet people in the city, do them favors and try to help them in any way she can but the game’s main story revolves around her trying to destroy a gravity storm threatening the city, bringing back missing parts of Hekseville from another dimension, killing some nasty monsters called the “Nevi” and rescuing some missing children. There are other important characters like another girl called Raven who has abilities just like Kat’s and a police officer named Syd.

Graphically, Gravity Rush is a very good game. There’s a very impressive art-style that makes the environment and characters resemble comic books of the very best quality. Everything is perfectly animated and the colors it used make the world resemble a steampunk city in many aspects. For being a portable game, you would expect far-away objects to appear when getting close to them but this game manages that perfectly to the point where it’s possible to see the entire city when flying very high in the sky.

One of the most impressive things about the game is the world itself. Gravity Rush doesn’t take place in the real world or a normal made-up planet. In it, there’s a very, very big column that goes all the way to the sky and the city of Hekseville floats around it. There are four different districts to visit in the city and each one has different kinds of buildings, gameplay missions and minigames. Also, the city is actually very big and it takes some minutes to go from one point to the other, even if you fly all the way.

In the sound department, Gravity Rush did something very, very cool which is making its own language. The characters don’t speak English, Japanese or anything like that. It’s a completely new language created for the game exclusively, like seen in games like Shadows of the Colossus or Panzer Dragoon Orta. This gives the game a much better feeling of immersion and reality, even inside the hugely fantasy-based theme. Sadly, there’s not much voice-acting to take advantage of it. Many of the storytelling sections and dialogs occur in text form or using the touch screen in the Vita to go from one page of a “comic book” to another.

The music is incredible, composed by Kohei Tanaka, it has a great resemblance to the soundtracks found in the very best JRPGs like Final Fantasy. There are even some Jazz songs thrown here and there and they fit perfectly with the game. Some parts will make most players just hang around in the different district of the city to just listen to the songs for a few more seconds.

Gravity Rush has a very dynamic and unconventional gameplay style. This is an action adventure game but it mixes perfectly bits of other genres in it like platforming and even some sandbox things. For starters, Kat will be moving around the city using zero-gravity and changing it at her will to walk in walls and ceilings and fly from one place to another. This part of the gameplay is the most brilliant I’ve seen in years as far as movement goes in a video game. Kat can go anywhere she wants, any time she wants to. Using only the power of gravity, which sound complicated but the controls for it make it very simple and enjoyable.

All over the city there are some purple gems scattered for Kat to collect and level up many aspects of gameplay like her usage of the gravity bar, extending her maximum health or the strength of the kick attacks in combat. These gems can also be gained by winning bronze, silver and golden medals in different minigames found around the city. Once you start advancing in the game and leveling Kat up, you’ll notice how her Gravity and combat powers get even greater and you’ll be taking much more advantage over the gameplay.

Most of the story missions are different from each other. Some require platforming (even taking out Kat’s gravity powers); others require combat against small enemies and bosses and others will even have Kat carry items or people around creating a zero-gravity field around her to move objects which she can even use to throw at enemies to deal damage from a distance.

Unfortunately, I felt some problems with the combat in the game, especially for the strong enemies who force Kat to use her mid-air gravity kicks. You can aim where to move Kat while she floats in mid-air with both the right stick and the gyro-sensor in the Vita. This is very cool and works wonders when exploring Hekseville, but in combat, things start to go wrong and in many occasions Kat will simply refuse to attack or fly where you want her to and if the enemies are strong and big (like bosses for example) and have one specific weak point, things become quite a pain. There are ways around it like using some special powers Kat earns (which can be leveled-up as well), but most of the community is noting that the combat in the game is a little annoying, especially towards the later missions where the Nevi enemies are stronger. But the exploration and the rest of the things in it definitely make up for it.

Besides the main story (which is very confusing and leaves things open-ended, perfect for a sequel), there are many side-missions and mini games to play. You can aim to maximize all of Kat’s powers and get all golden medals in the dozens of races and combat missions in the game. You can unlock some cute outfits for Kat as well and even buy extra DLC missions available in the PSN store. The main story isn’t very long and since the story is a little deep and confusing, the game more than welcomes you to try it out more than once.

For closing comments, I can say that Gravity Rush is definitely one of the best, if not the best game in the Vita right now. The exploration, movement, graphics and sound are incredible and if you get used to it, the combat can be fun. It’s impressive what a “simple” portable console can do now days. Gravity Rush doesn’t have anything to envy from early Xbox 360 or PS3 games. It looks and plays fantastic and tries to do many things differently and gets them right for the most part. I totally recommend this game; it should definitely sit in the library of each and every PS Vita owner.


Pros:

-          Excellent graphics and soundtrack.
-          Hekseville is one of the best and most interesting gaming worlds.
-          Exploration using gravity is a blast and works perfectly.
-          Beautiful art-style.
-          Many cool extras available both in the game and the PSN.

Cons:

-          The story and ending are very confusing.
-          Combat can be a little annoying in the second half of the game.


-          Graphics and Visuals…….…..10
-          Music and Sound Effects…......9
-          Gameplay……………………9
-          Replay Value…………….…..8

Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

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